Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Marketing Vs. Advance
Saturday’s edition of The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article on numerous general market novelists who are opting to sign with a smaller publisher for little to no advance dollars. The pull? Extra attention given to marketing their books. These novelists are also given “higher than normal” royalty payments, so with the right amount of sales, they can end up earning as much or even more.
Among these writers are suspense novelist David Morrell, women’s fiction writer Eileen Goudge, and science fiction novelist Greg Bear.
Morrell estimated that his 28 books have sold 20 million copies worldwide. Still, according to the article, Morrell left his longtime publisher, Warner Books, “after concluding that he needed to jump-start his career.” Publishing now with Vanguard Press, a small company owned by Perseus Books Group, Morrell says he’s involved with every step of the marketing of his novel. Morrell turned down a six-figure advance from Warner Books to go with Vanguard for no advance.
Vanguard says it focuses on marketing a book three months before its release, and three months after. This gives a six-month push—much longer than the typical lead-up followed by a few weeks after a book hits shelves. Another small press, Melville House, is following the same model as far as advances—offering little to no money in order that more can be spent on the marketing.
This kind of thinking is exactly opposite of the norm. Typically, the view is—the higher the advance, the more money the house has riding on the book, and therefore the bigger the marketing budget will be. If the house pays nothing for the book, they have little to lose if it doesn’t sell well.
But this new tactic seems to be working for Morrell. He published Creepers with CDS, now called Vanguard, in September 2005, and was pleased enough with the results that he’s gone back to the house for his next one. Scavenger will release March 12, 2007.
Interesting, though. The article says Creepers sold 62,000 copies in hardcover. Doesn’t sound like that many copies to me—not when you’re talking a total 20 million copies of 28 books. But Morrell and his agent are pleased with the whole package—which includes selling of movie rights, audio, book club, and foreign rights to 17 overseas publishers. Plus the paperback edition, which hits stores soon with an estimated printing of 225,000 copies.
The article also notes other well-known authors who’ve chosen the smaller press route, including Stephen King. Hard Case Crime books published The Colorado Kid for an advance of under $5,000. And Kurt Vonnegut published his most recent book, A Man Without a Country, with Seven Stories Press, whose typical advances range from $1000 to $10,000.
In the end--marketing rules.